Category Archives: Outside

In Paradise

I was lucky enough to live in paradise for a semester my junior year of college. Everyone that I asked about their college experience they either said how much they loved studying abroad or they wish they would have studied abroad.  So I made the choice to take the jump and move to the other side of the world.  I knew I wanted to live somewhere they have beautiful beaches, in warm weather, and where they speak English.  I love foreign languages, but unfortunately my brain has never been able to comprehend another language. My sister on the other hand, she took Spanish in high school years ago, and she can rock it.  Maybe after I am out of the education program I should start the process of learning Spanish…another goal to put on the list.

When you ask someone where their dream place would be to live, quite a few of them say Australia.  I said it too, and then I did it.  I filled out all the paperwork, I booked the plane ticket, I packed my bag, and I moved to Australia.  I signed up through a program that hooked up a lot of American students on the flight over so we were able to meet each other before we got to Oz.

I am going to go back just a few….some of the huge accomplishments that I conquered by going over to Oz was:

  1. Living alone for the first time ever
  2. Flying overseas (hello 12 hour flight)
  3. Moving over to Oz not knowing anyone
  4. Not knowing where I was going to live over there
  5. Moving around the world with only 1 suitcase filled with my possessions…. that was a huge challenge that my sister helped me with

One of the big goals I wanted to be able to say that I could do when I got back to the states was to surf.  And after a weekend with Mojo Surfing, eating a lot of water, being extremely sore for days afterwards, and one broken bikini….I could say that I could surf.  I continued to surf for the rest of the semester, but sadly I haven’t been on a board since.  It has been a few years, and I wonder how many times I would fall before I could actually ride a wave….

surfIMG_0113 IMG_0459 DSC_0033 - Copy DSC_0071 DSC_0163 DSC_0232 IMG_0027 IMG_0064Above are photos from my weekend of learning how to surf.  It was pretty awesome, there were  two photographers that took photos all weekend and then we were able to buy cd’s with all the photos on them.  I love the candid shots.

 

until again,

alc

 

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My Home State

There are many things that Iowa can offer someone.  Not only do we have farmers that are literally in our backyard growing food for our tables.  Or the livestock that we are lucky enough to eat that is healthy, and  not filled with hormones.  The people that live here. The people that are raised here.  The  have values that are unheard of in other parts of the country.  Iowa is one of the best states in education, even if the stats say otherwise currently…  I love this state.  Even though I have my Texas pride in my heart (I have to represent my birth state).  But I was raised in Iowa.  I am an Iowan.  I love to say that I am from the Midwest, and that I want to raise my family in the Midwest.  There is one thing that is a little crazy that I will never understand about this state…the weather.

How can it be cold enough in the morning for scarves and heat on the drive to work, but then by 1 o’clock you are wearing shorts and a tank top, then once 7pm comes around you’ve got jeans and a sweater back on again… tell me how many other places is able to have that amazing weather change in a few hours.  Well if you have ever lived in Iowa (or anywhere in the Midwest) you can say, “Oh yeah, I know exactly what she is talking about.”

Those days when you spend the extra 30 minutes doing your hair, because when you went out to feed the birds at 6am it was nice and cool with a gentle breeze.  Then by the time you walk out the door dolled up in your cute outfit, coffee in hand, and hair curled. Wow.  Mistake.  Hello frizz. You realize then a second after being outside that the humidity is rising, and it is going to be a scorcher.  You could have slept for that extra 30 minutes and thrown your hair up into a bun instead of wasting your time.  And this is the beginning of a normal Iowan summer day.

There are some days that are beautiful.  Those days are cool, with the sun shining, and a clear cool evening.  You can wear jeans, a tank, and flip flops.  Even better a sun dress with a thin sweater.  Or if you are an “odd one” like me, your perfect day has a crazy thunderstorm.  Those are the best days.  Days that are warm, with the sun shining, and then all of a sudden the dark thick clouds come rolling in.  You can hear the thunder miles away, you are just waiting for the storm to come.  The temperature drops. The wind beings to blow, and then the rain comes.  It is amazing when you can see the rain fall in the same fashion of an ocean’s wave.  If you are outside (and if you can run really fast…) you could maybe stay dry.

When I was in high school there were many hours spent swinging on the front porch watching and listening to the storms.  My family has taught me to appreciate and love nature.  Every aspect of it.  The good and the bad.  The hot and the cold.  The dry and the wet.  We would sit together and talk, spending time outside.  Enjoying the weather.  Loving the memories that were being made.  One of the times we were sitting outside watching the storm was the night before my mom and papa’s wedding. (Papa is my stepdad.)  I was a sophomore in high school and I was a little awkward.  I had braces.  I hadn’t exactly grown into the body I have today.  I was skinny.  I  tripped a lot (okay I still trip a lot to this day…) So we were outside on the back porch.  It began to rain.  Then it began to pour.  Then the wind picked up and the hail started to fall.  Papa pointed out a huge piece of hail that was out in the yard.  We all saw it and agreed it was a pretty big piece.  Next thing I know I was in the backyard.  Pops had given me a little “help” into the backyard.  I guess he thought it was really necessary to get that piece of hail.  Luckily I also thought the piece was pretty sweet and so it wasn’t a big deal to go out in the storm to grab it.  At that moment I know that pap was going to fit right in with our family 🙂

Enjoy the weather.  Go outside and get soaked from the raindrops.  Maybe run out in a hailstorm once in your life.  Lay out in the sun (with sunblock of course).  Sit on the porch with your family, have a cocktail, and share some stories.  Don’t just sit inside in front of the computer or TV.  Get up and move around.  Have some wonderful clean Iowan air move through your lungs, energizing you to run.  Smile that we are able to have all 4 seasons here.  Each year I get to live through extremely hot days with my curly hair, cool breezy days with beautiful leaves, freezing days building snowmen, and perfect days with thunderstorms.  And I love each and every single one of them.

Here are a few photos from a day this summer where my best friend and I were sitting outside watching her boyfriend’s soccer game and the thunderstorm came rolling in within minutes.  Man, I love Iowa.

And here comes the storm….

Black clouds took over…

Goodbye blue sky…

And then the rainbow peeks through the darkness…

until again, alc

Friends Who Are Always There

Dear Dan,

Thank you for being silly with me.  For texting and calling me all the time.  For visiting me at work and standing outside in the cold just to be there to “entertain me”.  To introducing me to some certain apps on my phone 😉  For playing Maroon 5 loud while we are driving around and singing along with me to.  For being a wonderfully sweet man who I trust completely.  I am so happy and thankful for you being in my life.

Love, me

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Over the past view years I have made new friends, lost some, and began to realize which ones will be with me for the rest of my life.  I love when I meet someone new in a crazy situation, and after a short time I know that we are going to become best friends almost immediately.  One of those friends is a man that I met more than a year ago.

The wonderful things about Dan:

  • He is a true Iowan, with awesome Mid-West values and beliefs
  • He will send me text at the perfect moment when I need to smile…how does he always know when to do this? 🙂
  • He is kind and caring
  • I know he will always be there for me, this includes helping me move in the future…going out for lunch…getting a drink…or calling me to chat
  • We both love nature, and we have spent a lot of time outside enjoying it together
  • He is teaching me about Iowa farming and cows, even better baby cows!
  • He supports my decision for going back to school, and he always reminds me that I will become an amazing teacher.  (This means so much to me when I have had a rough day in the classroom.)

Here is Dan and I at an Iowa football game earlier in the season.  We bleed black and gold.

Learning how to farm the corn fields.

A perfect image for the end… 

I have been having a rough past couple of days (almost a week now).  A few days ago was the anniversary of my best friend’s passing.  I sent Dan a text explaining my thoughts, and he called me right away.  Then he continues to text me wonderful messages reminding me that each day will get better, and if I need anything to get  a hold of him.  This image of a road during a beautiful Iowa day one of the amazing texts I received from Dan.  He took this when he was out one day, and he knows how much I adore nature.  As soon as I opened the text of this image, along with the line “Just for you” I couldn’t stop smiling all day.

I know each person has a friend like Dan.  Tell them thank you the next time you see them, or contact them soon and tell them how much you appreciate them.  Everyone loves to hear it.  Who cares if you feel silly telling them how much you adore them.  Do it.  Give specific examples, and continue this same process with all of your friends who touch your heart.

until again, alc

State Fair!

In the Midwest there is a lot of things we are very excited about that people from other parts of the country may not understand.  Some of these items include: 

  • Farm animals
  • Hunting
  • Eating local produce, meat, diary, etc
  • Actually knowing farmers who have live stock and crops
  • The farm smells that bring comfort (pigs, ponds, or soy beans to name a few)
  • Our Iowan mountains….that are really just rolling hills
  • Silos
  • John Deere families vs Case families, which I am part of a Case family…. thanks to my Papa
  • Swimming in ponds, creeks, and rock quarries
  • The weather’s never ending ability to change throughout the day.  You can go from turning on your air conditioning, to turning on the heat, to opening your windows, and back around again in the short period of one day…

A huge summer event that has become a favorite of mine is the Iowa State Fair.  It is huge.  It is fabulous. It is every year.  And it is open to everyone that wants to buy a ticket. At the fair there isn’t just rides and games, but there is food.  And all of this food is fried and on a stick. Those who are not from the Midwest may not understand how important it is to eat food that is dipped in batter, butter, and fried when you are on “vacation”.  This year my summer vacation was going up to the fair for the day with my mom and my 5 year old niece.  I had an amazing time with these two, and I can’t wait to head back next year with more of my family members.

Welcome to the fair!

Piggy!

Ribbon winning flowers

Little muckin!

Cruising along

Her own bag of cotton candy (one of my favorites ever!)

Too many options to choice from….

Just blow drying a sheep for show. Hello Iowa.

Myself and a pig!

Rocking the full cowboy gear 🙂

Some of the rides

One of the many, many, many pieces of food that was consumed that day

She does love fried pickles!

One of my prizes!

I continue to think about moving away after I graduate in May, but really could I leave this state that has taken care of me for 21 years of my life?  It is welcoming.  It is cozy.  My family is here.  I know and love how the state runs.  It is a good thing that I have time to figure it out still before any actions have to be taken.

What makes your state the best?  How are you comforted by it?

Until again, alc

Happiness.

I have already gotten into the habit of not updating my blog.  I knew I would do this, but I wasn’t sure when it would happen.  It was brought to my attention when my cousin mentioned that she missed reading it.  So here we go, round 2.

Fall is coming.  It is my favorite season.  There are so many different things that make me happy during fall.  Pumpkin spice lattes, beautiful colors outside, sweaters, adorable hats, boots, jeans, my hair not being frizzy, classes, holidays, and so much more.

I started my classes a few weeks ago and so far I love them, but I am a little overwhelmed.  I am taking 18 hours.  And working almost 30 hours every week.  But I have come to realize that if I am not fully loaded with a crazy schedule then I get bored.  So here comes me smiling and working my behind off to get it all done.  Here is a little lay out of some of my fall courses:

One of the classes is my Reading Practicum.  This course has me in an elementary school in town 4 days a week, and one of those days I will be teaching my own lesson plan that I have created.  The only downfall is that my class is from 8am to 10:30am…which isn’t that bad until I work til 3am….and then I am a little tired.  But I only have this happen on Friday mornings, and I know that I can handle it once a week.  I went on my school visit earlier this week, and I officially start on Monday.

Then there is Classroom Management.  This course is overlapping with my Reading Practicum.  It is an amazing course that teaching me how to interact with students while I am in teaching.  This includes fun activities like ice breakers, games, transition tips, ways to keep my room organized, and so much more.  My professor is soft spoken, but strict and has been teaching for years.  I have a feeling that she will be someone I will keep in contact with in years to come.  Classroom management is almost more than the actually teaching aspect of education.  Without having organization and communication there will be no classroom community.  And without the students being part of this community they will not be able to have the best educational experience possible.  I am going to work my best at providing this for my students.

Next is Parent Teacher Communication.  This is an online course.  And I have to work my hardest at completing my assignments.  It is easy to just put it off and not do anything for it, but I need to make sure that I keep up with this course….It is pretty interesting.  Teachers need to be able to communicate with not only the students, but with their parents (or their guardians), other cooperating teachers or staff members, the community, and their supervisors.  This course gives specific examples and makes them seem extremely personal for me.  I just have to make sure I get this course done….

I have never thought I would be so interested on the effects of language and our society until I started this course, Language and Learning. My professor has studied in many different regions around the country, and she is very well educated.  While I am listening to her lecture I am completely engaged and immersed into the information given.  I love TV.  And through this course I am learning the real facts on how the many forms of communication affect young students, older students……all of us.  This includes TV, books, texting, talking, the internet, music, and so much more.  I hope to do a whole post dedicated to this course later on in the semester.

I am so lucky that I am getting closer and closer each day to becoming a teacher.  Not everyone is able to work towards a career that they actually love.  I will be graduating in May, and then hello every elementary school who is hiring!  They will know my name 🙂

Overall this post is just a little look into my over simulated brain at this current moment.  I am home from work and wide awake.  This happens often.  I will be sleepy at work, and then when I get home I will be awake for another hour or two.  I need to try to get to sleep soon though, I am heading to the Iowa/Iowa State game tomorrow! I started as a Hawkeye back in 2005 and in the past 7 years I have not been able to watch an Iowa/Iowa State game live.  I was asked by one of my best friends to attend the game with him.  Not only do I get to go to this amazing match, but I am able to watch it in the 23rd row on the 50 yard line.  I maybe a little spoiled 😉

So off to bed to dream about this past summer.  This photo illuminates a perfect moment for me. What is your perfect moment from this past summer? Does it include being with friends or family or being alone?  Does your perfect moments change depending on the season? Mine do….just a little bit though. Usually the differences are between being inside or outside, although they normally include the same people.

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Step out into the grass and feel the dew on your toes.  Enjoy the moment, and take a breath.

Tomorrow will bring change.

Today notice the hope.

Remember the times slipped by and smile.

Until again, alc

Out in the Garden

Living in the Midwest has taught me many values.  Respect each other.  Love.  Take care of each other.    Be happy.  Try to not stress out with the little things, but instead take a deep breath and relax. Keep your family and friends involved in your life.  Try to live off the land.  In the past year and a half I have become more connected in the city I live in.  I have been here for years, but some people think it is nothing but a college town.  I disagree.  This city is my home.  My parents are here.  My sister and her family are here.  My grandma is here. I know the side streets (maybe not all the names but I know the area 🙂 ) There is a chance that I will get a job here after I graduate in May.  I could buy my home here.  I could get married and raise my children here.  That is a big idea to get my head wrapped around. What if I should leave for a few years and then come back?  I love Midwest values.  I love the life I have had thus far.  I love the childhood I had.  I want to be able to keep those values, and possibly this environment.

Becoming more comfortable in this town has allowed me to meet more “locals” and this in return has keep me more grounded.  My family has always been into gardening.  I enjoy it, but I have never had a real garden of my own.  I haven’t owned my own house yet, and I have lived in apartments since I moved out of my parents’ house.  I am now in a rental house, and I have a fair amount of plants in pots, and I have fixed a few flower beds…and one tomato plant…but no garden.  Yesterday I went out to a garden with my sister and her little ones.    Her friends purchased about 40 acres of land a few years ago, and they have built their home and created a garden.  They said that my sister and her family can pick as much as they would like from the garden, and in return they help keep the garden and can/freeze the produce.

While we were driving up the lane to get to the garden, we had to stop and back up…it was a little muddy and instead of getting the car stuck we decided to get out and get our feet muddy instead.  While my sister was parking the car she told me to hop out and see if that was a turtle or frog out in the road.  I was standing there searching for this animal, and I couldn’t see anything.  I couldn’t find it.  And then I did.  How my sister spotted this tiny guy is amazing.  It was an adorable baby snapping turtle.  He just sat there and stared up at me.  He didn’t run away immediately.  Estelle was able  to see him, and I took a few photos and a video.  Then he ran over to the side and we went on our way up the hill to the garden.

Just a little cutie! Can you spot him?

We went out with a mission of picking tomatoes.  Or “matoes” as the little ones call them.   Hazel did really well helping me pick cherry tomatoes as T worked on the monster roma tomato plants.  Gabe came over and showed me that he picked a green bean, so we picked those too! Estelle was eating a tomato like an apple.  It was quiet and peaceful.  The color green was everywhere. This is how a summer day should be spent.   With your family.  Doing something that doesn’t cost a ton of money.  Something that will benefit you in the long run.  (My sister has made jars and jars and jars of tomato sauce, tomato soup, pizza sauce, stewed tomatoes, and salsa is on the way.) I was able to bring home fresh tomatoes and basil, and tonight for dinner I am having the best salad ever.  Here is the directions for one of my favorite Midwestern salads!

Tomato Mozz Salad:

  • Tomatoes (fresh from a garden is the best)
  • Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Fresh Basil leaves (again from a garden is the best)

Directions:

  • Cut up the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese into small chunks
  • Slice the basil into small pieces
  • Put it all in a bowl and add in dressing (as much or as little as you would like)
  • Mix it up (or shake it) so all the ingredients are covered with the dressing
  • Let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes (I like it best cold, but room temperature is good too)
  • Enjoy!

Here are some photos from the amazing adventure I had with my family.

The little ones and T working away

Estelle checking out the corn

Gabe eating a green bean.  Can not getting any healthier than that! Straight from the plant, straight to his tummy!

Myself with fresh peppers in hand

  I have amazing people in my life that influence me to make each day better than the past.  They know I have some bad habits that I need to change, and I am very lucky that they are supporting me in my changes.  What can you do to make your day better?

Until again, alc

Walking with the Pups

I love the summer, but this hot summer is a little too much to handle.  I wish that the Midwest would just cool it down a few degrees!  Before work I took the boys on a walk, unfortunately we couldn’t go for a long one, but the short one was just as fun.  I am working on keeping my wardrobe a bit more presentable.  It is so easy to throw on a tank and yoga pants with some flip flops and run out the door.  But instead, I am going to try to do an upgrade with my clothes 🙂 So here is day one: a cute summer dress that was once my sister’s.  She actually wore it in a wedding!  Now I have been wearing it a little more casual with a brown belt and my Sperry Topsiders.  With the pups in hand… we were ready to go!

Day  1 outfit:

Get outside and enjoy the day!!

Until again, alc

Enjoying Others Art

I woke up this morning on the cranky side of the bed. Which is weird because I am not even sleeping in my own bed. I am currently staying at my parent’s house to take care of their pups and the house while they are enjoying a nice vacation in Florida. I worked until 3am and then went home, let out the pups, brushed my teeth, and then climbed ini bed to read a bit to help me fall asleep. First problem: do not read a book that is a page turner before bed… You will never fall asleep. I finally drifted off to dreamland to be woken up way to soon to my handy alarm. Second problem: do not get less than 4 to 5 hours of sleep. Your body will not like you. I stretched and went straight to the coffee. After the morning routine with the pups I headed off to work to begin my 9 hour day.

I was going to unfortunately start my shift cranky, but luckly for me the co-worker that I would be working with is one of my good friends, and the hours began to slip away with girl talk. During my break I walked down to a local shop to grab some comfort food, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies and I stopped to take a deep breath and actually notice this “cold front” we are having today in Iowa. While I was taking this moment I looked up and noticed this huge mural that was completed this summer. It amazes me how one man produced this piece of artwork in a short amount of time. I have never even thought about creating a painting that would fill a wall of building. This piece is so simple and yet the meaning is thoughtful and progressive. It made me realize how small I am. I love that feeling that even though my thoughts that overwhelm me nd worry me, I know that my problems will be solved. That I am okay. And that things happen the way they should in the end.

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What do you think this mural means? What does it represent to you?

The sky was a vivid blue with fluffy white clouds. I haven’t used the ac once today. There is a breeze that has given me the chills a few times. It is a great day that was almost ruined my my bad mood…

Until again, alc